ARRL

News

Surfin': More Radio Piracy on the High Seas

11/20/2009

Pirate radio must be near and dear to our ham radio hearts because last week's column on that topic received many positive responses.

David Sparvell, G4FTC, had a lot to add to the story: "In Britain, the North Sea pirates still hold a special place in our psyche even though it is now more than 40 years since the legislation which effectively outlawed them came law (Radio Caroline was the only station to continue broadcasting, all the other stations shut down). Even one of the BBC stations has a week every year dedicated to the North Sea pirates where they actually set up a studio in a North Sea lightship and broadcast from it. As you correctly point out, the UK release, The Boat that Rocked got mixed reviews -- it is very loosely based on the story of Radio Caroline, and although the movie was written by Richard Curtis (the same writer for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill), it definitely wouldn't be classed as one of his most memorable movies. I think that Richard Curtis may well hope that the movie would quietly sink below the waves of the North Sea.

"You mentioned Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline. The record that was played by Radio Caroline almost as a signature tune was Caroline by The Fortunes. Another record used as a jingle by the ship was Caroline by Roy Hastings.

"Another fact that you may well find amazing is that at their peak, the pirates had an audience of about 25 million listeners, i.e., one person in two in the whole UK population -- add that to the listeners in Holland and Belgium and you get an idea of how popular they were. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, half of the UK population was criminals!

"If you're interested in the real story, get a copy of The Radio Caroline Story: The Story of the Pirate Radio Station on CD. Note that Radio Caroline was not the biggest of the pirates in terms of listeners; that was Radio London. The actual Radio London ship appeared in a movie called Dateline Diamonds.

"Hope this has filled in a few gaps in your knowledge!"

Yes indeed. Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving and keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, wanted to be a pirate when he grew up! To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.

 

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor



Back